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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Easter!



Newton, the Wizard (Whizzer?) and Cindy Lou. The reasons for calling the bigger guy Newton I think are pretty obvious. Plus our street used to be called Newton Street before the big renaming/numbering going on 100 years ago. The little guy's name needs a little more explanation. One of his favorite things is to "talk 'bout wedders." He'll say each letter of the alphabet and then one to several words starting with that letter. The first time he said, "Ell, wizard," it kind of threw me for a minute. The boys' shirts and the baby's sweater were all purchased at resale. Yay for reuse!

We hosted Easter dinner with J&J and fam, plus a couple of other friends. I made the classic ham (because it's easy!) and scalloped potatoes, J brought broccoli, and for some reason I thought we needed three desserts: ganache-filled cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, chocolate pots, and spritz cookies. Often when I am overambitious like this one or more gets tossed by the wayside, but this time I finished all three without feeling like a stress case. Helps that they were all really easy.

The chocolate pots were a recipe from Real Simple from a while back, basically just a scratch chocolate pudding. I put them in adorable Easter egg-shaped ramekins I got from the Crate & Barrel outlet a few years ago.
Chocolate Pots

2/3 C sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/8 t kosher salt
3 C whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 t vanilla
6 oz bittersweet chocolate
cocoa powder for garnish (optional)

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium saucepan. Add 1/3 C of the milk, whisking until smooth, then add remainder of milk and egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (or nearly so) until thickened, about 180 degrees. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla and chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted. Pour into ramekins and chill 2-48 hours. Sprinkle with cocoa powder before serving if desired.

The recipe calls for 8 4-oz ramekins, but as you can see in the picture, I used 11. I don't know if the recipe testers just filled them fuller, or if my ramekins are slightly smaller than 4 oz.



The cupcakes were a redo from a while back, only this time I decided to frost them with cream cheese frosting, tinted pink. I'm sad I didn't get a picture of the finished product--I actually went to the effort of piping the frosting, and then they were topped with these cute Easter sprinkles I've had hanging around in the cupboard for just such an opportunity (along with the Easter-egg printed wrappers hidden by the tin). I'm not sure whether I like them better with the frosting or the ganache. Certainly the frosting is more seasonally adaptable.



The spritz cookies are from a basic recipe I got from my mom. It's not the one in the Betty Crocker Cookie Book--that one has never worked right for me. The color (from violet gel food coloring) turned out a little odd--I wonder if it would have been nicer if I had used bleached flour? Not that I generally would use bleached flour for anything (although the cupcake recipe calls for cake flour, which is usually bleached).



The scalloped potatoes came from Cook's Illustrated, only doubled and some of the potatoes substituted with garnet sweet potatoes. Here's how I made it:
Scalloped Orange-and-White Potatoes
makes a 10x14 inch Pyrex pan's worth

I used the food processor for the onion, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and cheese, scraping but not rinsing in between. Very efficient.

2 T unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 t fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper (accidentally omitted)
3-3.5 lb russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 lb garnet "yams," peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 C chicken broth (from about 1/2 C homemade concentrated stock)
2 C heavy cream
2 bay leaves (again, accidentally omitted)
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in large Dutch oven (my favorite 6-qt one was a bit small to hold everything and still allow for stirring) over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Sauté onion until soft and beginning to brown, then add garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, liquid and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until potatoes are not quite done (barely pokable but still on the stiff side). Transfer mixture to baking dish (removing bay leaves), sprinkle with cheese, and bake until slightly browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

They turned out a bit runnier than I would have liked--next time I think I'll reduce the chicken broth. They also got a bit overcooked because the oven (from which we had just pulled the ham) wasn't quite ready when they were, so they cooked on the stove a bit longer. The sweet potatoes were fabulous in there, though--next time I think I'll try an even larger percentage substitution.



One item from dinner that didn't make it into the photo was my family's traditional Ham Sauce, made from sweetened whipped cream, a little mayonnaise, dry mustard (for kick), and yellow mustard (for color). Nothing like fat and sugar to make everything taste better, right?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Swizzies said...

Mmmmm. YUM. And I still remember your ham sauce with drooly fondness. Ah. Someday, post your recipe for triple-chocolate mousse. I know it's probably beneath your awesome cooking skillz now, but it's totally my speed. Plus, I love it. :-)

Happy Easter!

March 27, 2008 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger janeannechovy said...

Funny you should mention that mousse. I just recently gave the recipe to my mom for some RS shindig she was hosting. I'll e-mail it to you.

March 29, 2008 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger J.M. Tewkesbury said...

What a gorgeous bunch of kids! And I love their blog names. Perfect!

As for the food... Well, I'm drooling. Yum.

March 30, 2008 at 2:54 PM  

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